NORCO RANGE C1 REVIEW

Review by Drew Rohde
Photos by Max Rhulen

After several months of testing the high pivot Norco Range on everything from bike park downhill trails, jump lines and longer pedals on flat, mellow trails, we think we’ve nailed down just who the ideal consumer of this beast of a mountain bike is. If you caught our initial ride report, the stoke was high after one day of riding on the lower mountain trails at the local bike park. Things weren’t butterflies and rainbows however as we quickly began to grow disheartened by the Norco Range and spent months handing it around to other testers and swapping spring rates before we reached back out to Norco. After a few Zoom meetings and a final attempt at installing a new shock on the chance ours had a bad bleed, or incorrect tune, we discovered the shock extension link had a seized bearing. With a new shock and link installed, we began to rejoice as each rider’s opinion began to change ride after ride. Sometimes reviews aren’t as easy as we hope, and this was certainly one of them. We’re happy to report however, that we finally got this bike feeling as good as everyone else has been telling us it is.

THE LAB
In an effort to get you right to the dirt, we’ll keep the Lab portion short and just direct you over to our more in-depth launch article on the new Norco Range and the features included.

QUICK HITS

  • 170mm High Virtual Pivot
  • Ride Aligned Design System
  • HTA 63.25° (Large)
  • STA 77° (Large)
  • REACH 480mm (Large)

Price: $5,599 – $9,499
Website: Norco.com

If you don’t want the full breakdown found above, we’ll keep the list of highlights here brief. Norco’s redesigned Range sports 170mm of front and rear wheel travel with a highly talked about high pivot suspension design. The system relies on an idler pulley to combat the undesirable characteristics of a high pivot suspension platform like chain growth and pedal kickback. High pivot bikes have a much more rearward axle path, which could be another negative in some situations, but the design has been praised as of late for letting the wheels get back, up, and out of the way of incoming obstacles. The claims are that it reduces hang-up and increases speed while reducing fatigue.

Norco Range C1 Profile Shot

Along with the new suspension design, Norco has carried over with their Ride Aligned concept and size-specific geometry. We did a very in-depth feature on Ride Aligned as well and you can check it out here. Essentially it is a system that takes average body dimensions and weights and helps give riders bike lengths and suspension tunes that are optimized to give riders of all weights and sizes the best experience possible.

Geometry on the Norco Range is in a pretty solid place for a 170mm enduro bike. Our size large sports a 480mm reach, 442.5 rear center, 1,285mm wheelbase. 77-degree seat tube angle and 355mm bottom bracket heigh. The 63.25-degree head tube angle is certainly slack and could be a bit much for some riders, but then again, if you’re looking at this bike, chances are you are riding steep and fast terrain anyhow.

Norco offers three complete carbon models from $5,599 up to the C1 we tested here, which retails for $9,499. There is a frame kit available for $3,799 if you’re lucky enough to somehow own a shipping container full of illusive bike parts.

Norco Range C1 Action

THE DIRT
Let’s first get the hiccup out of the way. We spent a couple of months riding the bike, going back and forth with shock tuning, spring rates and swapping parts like wheels and handlebars in hopes of getting the bike to stop beating the crap out of us. We kept seeing glowing review after rave review dropping from other media outlets and felt like Mr. Mugatu in Zoolander, taking crazy pills. After exhausting ourselves we connected with Norco once again and brought up the fact that perhaps the shock was blown and they asked if we’d be interested in holding off on publishing our review until we tried one more shock. When we began the time-consuming process of pulling the shock out, we discovered there was a seized bearing deep in the lower shock mount’s extension link. We quickly emailed Norco asking if they’d also send a new link along with the shock and they gladly did.

Long story short, we replaced the shock and link, and the bike turned our frowns upside down. It was clear instantly that the issue was gone, and we could now tackle the rough and chunky downhill trails we love without the abusive ride we had at first. We wanted to bring this up in case there are other riders out there who own or have ridden this bike and maybe feel they can’t get the shock to feel right, or perhaps it’s a bit harsher than they’d expect. If so, pull that lower shock link and check it out as our bike only had a couple rides on it before it started feeling stiff and harsh.

Norco Range C1 Review

Once we had the bike sorted, we could restart our testing process. One thing that didn’t change dramatically was how the Norco Range climbed. Comfort was never an issue and Norco’s size-specific geo seems to be pretty dialed on this ride, but what we didn’t love was the somewhat squished down feel on long climbs. Especially mid-grade climbs where you’re seated and just grinding away. The pulley and extra chain length may not be that big of a deal from a mechanical drag perspective but try telling your brain and legs that in the middle of a long climb as your friends creep away from you. Another issue we had with the Range’s climbing was the low rocker link. When climbing over downed trees, or large rocks, we clipped it a couple of times. We never hit it on the downhills or when moving at speed, but it seemed to be an issue at slower paces.

Once it was time to point the Norco Range down the mountain however, it would be the other riders getting peeled off the back. Without sounding too predictable, if you could imagine what riding a single-crown 170mm downhill bike would feel like, that’s what it’s like to stand over the Range as it charges down the trail. The bike is dead silent, offering only a muted thud of the tires as they pound the terrain beneath. This of course instills more confidence and urges you to stay off the brakes because, if the bike’s not even making any noise, surely it’s not working that hard. Of course, then our nerves came into play…which is about the only thing that slows the Range down.

Norco Range C1Review

While it is insanely capable at going fast, gobbling up terrain and keeping its pilot calmy composed while on board, there is one area we want to bring up that caused some unsettling feelings. When dropping off uneven surfaces, like lava rocks, with holes or cracks, the lengthening rear end can cause a momentary scare. We noticed it a few times aboard all of our high pivot test bikes and essentially what we’re experiencing is a momentary stall of the rear end while the front tire is already in the air and beginning to drop back to the ground. As you roll off the rock’s edge and give the normal little bump and lift you’d need for a slow-speed 5-6-foot drop, the rear wheel enters the crack or hole. For a brief second the front of the bike continues forward, and then you realize the rear wheel isn’t coming with you because it is staying in that hole and essentially letting the bike’s wheelbase grow. This means your “perfectly timed” lift off, isn’t so perfect and the front end begins to drop until the curve in the wheel path moves enough and the wheel comes free of the hole and then off the drop. Now, that’s a long paragraph to talk about a very isolated situation, but it’s one scenario that consistently happened with all our high pivot bikes to some extent, and it could be a type of obstacle you encounter very often in your local terrain. If that’s the case, there will likely be a learning curve for you. If not, then you probably don’t ride many old school, janky trails, and congratulations to you.

Norco Range C1 Action

The Wolf’s Last Word

Aside from our unfortunate incident with defective hardware that took a lot of time and energy to sort out, we are pleased to say we had a lot of fun on the Norco Range C1. It is not the bike for everyone, and is certainly not the best climber in the enduro category, but we can’t think of many other bikes that would have us feeling as comfortable at speed and plowing over downhill-bike trails. Norco set out to create a bike that prioritized downhill performance and was ready to charge any Enduro World Series track, or bike park, or backwoods chute it gets pointed at, and in that regard they succeeded. We would just say to those interested in this bike that they should really evaluate their local terrain, needs and priorities as riders. The Norco Sight is a very bad ass bike and one we think a lot more people would benefit from in their garage, but, for those that just need more downhill in their life, the Range is a masterpiece.

Price: $9,499
Weight:
38.10 lbs
Website:
Norco.com

VISIT NORCO TO GET YOURS!

SPECIFICATIONS

CHASSIS
Frame: Full Carbon, Ride Aligned | 170mm
Fork: Fox Factory 38, Grip 2, FLOAT | 170mm
Shock: FOX DHX2 Factory Coil

COCKPIT
Brakes: SRAM Code RSC | 200/200mm
Shifter: SRAM XO1 Eagle | 12-speed
Handlebar: Deity Skywire Carbon | 800mm
Stem: Alloy | 40mm Length
Saddle: Ergon SM10 Enduro Comp
Seatpost: OneUp Adjustable Dropper
Seatpost Size: 150mm (S), 180mm (M), 210mm (L, XL)

WHEELS
Wheels: We Are One Union Enduro 29″ Carbon Wheelset | Onyx Vesper Hubs
Front Tire: Maxxis Assegai 2.5″, DD, 3C MaxxGrip, TR
Rear Tire: Maxxis Dissector 2.4″, WT, DD, 3C MaxxGrip, TR

DRIVETRAIN
Bottom Bracket: SRAM DUB PF92
Cassette: SRAM Eagle XG 1275, 10-52T
Cranks: SRAM X01 Eagle Carbon, DUB, 32T, 170mm
Derailleur: SRAM X01 Eagle, 12-Speed

Santa Cruz Bronson V4 CC Rear Forward Link

We Dig

Beautiful and commands attention
Aggressive stance
Stable and composed at speed
Eats up chunky terrain
Fast AF

We Don’t

Adjusting/removing shock is a pain
Low rocker link
Doesn’t climb great

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